back to article Phorm takes a bullet for the advertising industry

The unlikely image of Phorm boss Kent Ertugrul as some kind of John the Baptist of behavioural targeting was conjured yesterday as advertising industry leaders pondered the future of online advertising. "I think from a media owner perspective it was good that Phorm drew the sting for everybody else," Microsoft Advertising …


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  1. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    It's not so much that I don't want tailored advertising

    More that advertising in general is becoming more intrusive.

    Take, for instance, advertising breaks in television programs, where the volume is often several decibels higher than that of the program they interrupt.

    Advertising has been shown to affect the behaviour of the consumer, which is why there is an advertising industry in the first place, but that effect is to the advertiser's advantage, and not necessarily the consumer's.

    Personally, I don't want products shoved down my throat; if I've not bought something, it's probably because I neither need nor want it. If I decide I do want to by a certain type of product, I will do the research and buy the one that does the job best, or cheapest, or best fits whatever criteria I decide to set. It is not up to some dickhead in a marketing department somewhere with a nose-full of bolivian marching powder to decide what is best for me and then shout it loudly at me at every opportunity.

    Anyway, it's not necessarily the 'tailored advertising' aspect of Phorm that was the problem, since I would almost surely be blocking all of their efforts in the first place. It was the more sinister collection of 'anonymised' information about my internet habits, which would, no doubt find their way into a database somewhere where they would end up being cross-referenced and 'de-anonymised'. No thank you very much.

  2. jubtastic1


    "if you advertise in Vogue, or in a football magazine, you expect to reach a specific kind of reader and the specific kind of reader expects to see a specific kind of ad"

    What a fantastic criticism of behavioural marketing then, seeing as advertisers will find their ads running next to totally unrelated content and ditto for consumer expectations, it's Lose:Lose.

    And the fix for that is to continue doing what they're always done (with proven track record), of advertising against content that's complimentary to their market, with a simple substitution of online magazines for printed ones.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    if you advertise in Vogue

    if you advertise in Vogue the readers know that the publishers don't know who they are [1] and the publishers don't know what the readers' other interests are and the publishers don't know what adverts and articles readers stop to read and what adverts and articles they skip. The readers also know that regardless of any "privacy policy" at Vogue or elsewhere, their details will not be available for use by any other organisation, because Vogue won't have their personal details.

    Summary: not sure what point Microsoft were trying to make, but it doesn't seem greatly relevant.

    [1] Exceptions apply, e.g. if you subscribe to Vogue.

  4. Eponymous Cowherd

    Just need more bullets.

    Preferably loaded into a minigun.

    So we can ensure that the next ad exec w*nker to stick his head above the behavioural advertising parapet gets it as messily messily splattered as Ertugrul's

    Mind you, you will need armour piercing bullets in order to penetrate the average advertising tosspot's inordinately thick skin and even thicker Neanderthalesque skull.

  5. GregC

    What the marketers continually fail to understand

    is that most people don't actually want to be advertised at. I don't know anybody who, if you said "Do you want to see ads", would say yes. Yet we continually hear that "what the consumer wants is more relevant advertising". No. Wrong. People, at least all the ones I know, tolerate advertising at best. Many of us take every possible measure to actively avoid it. Yet these people can't or won't understand.

    And yes, I know that internet based outfits have to make money to survive. I wish more sites would adopt a subscription option that allows switching off ads - ten-tenths motorsport forum does this, I very happily give them a tenner a year and in exchange for that I get a No Ads checkbox.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    disagree ...

    It's impossible to say whther Phorm have "taken one for the industry". At just about every step along the way they have taken the worst possible management decisions.

    Right from "secret" trails to stopphoulplay. It's difficult to say whether a similar product managed in a less underhand way would be better recieved or not. As you say it's just as valid to say that Phorm have queered the market for anyone wanting to introduce behaviour driven marketing.

    "eminently sensible point that if you advertise in Vogue, or in a football magazine, you expect to reach a specific kind of reader and the specific kind of reader expects to see a specific kind of ad."

    Eminently sensible - or stating the bloody obvious ? Context driven advertising is here right now and doesn't rely on knowing anything about the customer - other than he's reading your page. If that's going to be the best argument they can use they might as well give up now.

    (ex-phorm employee ... too right I'm anonymous)

  7. Phil Endecott


    If only we had an alternative funding model for web sites. Paying subscriptions might work in a minority of cases, but not most. I would prefer a micro-payment system and pay-per-view, except for the certainty that the technology would by hijacked by scammers.

  8. Can't think of anything witty...

    @Ed Blackshaw

    "I do want to by a certain type of product, I will do the research and buy the one that does the job best, or cheapest, or best..."

    Do you do this for EVERYthing you buy? I mean, sure, i research some purchases (Laptop, Car, MP3 Player, Mobile etc) but do you research your washing powder? How about the brand of shower gel?

    I think that claiming that you will research all your purchases is a big generalisation. For all those other things in your life (like soap, kitchen cleaner, etc etc) advertising is perfectly fair game (it's fair game for anything, but it's likely to play a smaller part in your decision if the purchase is bigger).

    having thought about it, targeted advertising doesn't bother me at all. In fact, i must compliment The Reg for really good contextual advertising. If i'm reading a laptop review, laptop adverts appear in the side bar. if it's about a mobile, mobile phone ads appear. It''s really subtle, but quite effective.

    I do of course have a problem with Phorm, for pretty much all of the reasons discussed many times before. However, I agree with Phorm in that i find relevant adverts less annoying - where we differ - and this is the important bit - is on the method of deciding what is relevant... but it'd be a shame to loose good targeted adverts because Phorm act recklessly.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    If phorm has taken the bullet and is still standing empty the whole clip into them.

    DIE Phorm, DIE

  10. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @Can't think of anything witty

    Since all washing powders contain pretty much the same ingredients, I would go for the cheapest, rather than the expensive one with the shiny adverts. Shower gel? Probably the one I liked the smell of most. Ditto with soap. Kitchen cleaners are a little more complex - you have to weight the cost versus the concentration of the surfactants, since the very cheap ones also tend to be very dilute - if you look at the back of the packet, you'll see that, again, they all have the same active ingredients.

    In none of the choices above, would I be consciously swayed by advertising. but that's the point, advertising doesn't affect you most on a conscious level, it has a subconscious effect. In fact, it is DESIGNED to have a subconscious effect, to make you buy things you otherwise wouldn't. IMHO, the purveyors of this trade deserve to be put on the Golgafrinchan 'B' ark and then we'd all be better off.

  11. Ian 54


    "Phorm takes a bullet for the advertising industry"!

    Oh, you meant a metaphorical bullet. oh well, a man can dream...

  12. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    I Like Ads

    Really - but only about 0.1%... the Guiness ads, that bizarre, late night C4 add for tires that looked like an automotive fetish street party, etc.

    In other words: advertisers be creative - be witty, artistic, entertaining, informative... put some brains into it!

    And yes, there's also the 0.1% that make me want to shoot (in a non homicidal way of course) those responsible... I can't remember what it said on the tin, but I know they said it did precisely that.

  13. Sir Runcible Spoon


    I've just realised that there are adverts running down the side of my browser when viewing the comments! Must've filtered them out somehow using my brain thingymajig.

    Phorm were the torch-bearers for a whole industry, and they torched it :D

  14. Can't think of anything witty...

    @Ed Blackshaw

    "Since all washing powders contain pretty much the same ingredients, I would go for the cheapest"

    So if you saw an advert on the TV telling you that "new supa-white washing powder was half price!!" then you would buy that one?

    It doesn't matter to you which power you buy, but it does to the company selling it.

    I still find adverts annoying (and hence am a fan of the BBC for my TV) but I just wanted to make the point.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Sir Runciple Spoon,

    I've just realised that there are adverts running down the side of my browser when viewing the comments! Must've filtered them out somehow using my brain thingymajig.

    Aaargh, you told me , now I can see them. bastard.

  16. Nebulo

    @Ed Blackshaw

    Very well said, twice.

    If I want to buy something, I'll go and look for one, thanks, and decide on the facts. One factor heavily influencing my decision is always which contender has NOT shoved "funny"/ garish/ animated/ whatever crap in my face/ web viewing/ environment/ etc. in an attempt to influence me. More people should treat advertising as negative - it's the only language "they" understand.

  17. David 105
    Thumb Up

    @Can't think of anything witty...

    "In fact, i must compliment The Reg for really good contextual advertising. If i'm reading a laptop review, laptop adverts appear in the side bar. if it's about a mobile, mobile phone ads appear. It''s really subtle, but quite effective."

    I think that's the model that was referenced in the article. If you read a football mag, you expect to see football related adverts, if you look at Laptop Review websites, you would probably expect to see Laptop Adverts. All this can be done without tracking you, if you're on a Laptop review page, you're probably interested in buying a Laptop (you might read a review saying the advertised laptop is shite but that's beside the point), so the sinister approach of Phorm and other behavioural targeting firms (coz the are still out there) is unessecary.

    Sorry, I wasn't sure if that was you're point or not...

  18. Anonymous Coward


    ...are they not dead yet?

    Looks like more than one bullet required then. Form an orderly queue behind AC @ 13:04. Me next.

    Grenade...because they'd work too.

  19. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    @Ed Blackshaw

    No I don't research the washing powder I buy, although I might stumble on a copy of Which? that's testing different makes. But I don't buy a brand because it's been pushed at me - I'm more likely to buy a shop's own brand with a good clear generic label. My experience with the product will of course influence whether I buy it again.

    I might very well check ads for the prices of equipment that I want to buy, but I'll go and look for them on my terms. Any firm that pesters me with junk mail, spam, cold calls and irritating animated ads on web sites is likely to exclude itself from the equation, assuming that I actually notice who is sending te stuff.

    The way to sell things to me is to make all the information I need easily available in a clear and concise manner with 100% browser compatibility (not reliant on Flash, Java, javascript, non-portable PDF etc.). Deliberately omitting relevant information will have a negative effect (e.g.not mentioning that a tv receiver is analogue only) as will any attempt at blinding with science.

  20. Sir Runcible Spoon

    @AC 14:31


  21. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Its all about how much they care

    Look at it this way: While a seler is trying to woo you as a new customer, they need to convince you that they are great. Once they've won you as a customer the heat is off and they can drop the game a bit.

    OK, so if a seller is trying to woo me by in-your-face advertising, behavioural advertising, profiling and the rest, then I just don't want to know.

    They may have the nicest and best product going, but if they are prepared to treat me like crap when they are supposed to be winning me as a customer, then I wonder just how much worse will they treat me once the heat is off?


    Sell to me, not at me.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    A big thank-you to Kent Ertugrul !

    Isn't it amazing what a vocal minority can achieve? And a year ago they were saying there were just half a dozen of us, that we were exaggerating, that we were tinfoil hat wearing anorak geeks writing thousands of angry letters each every day - - and now even the AD industry has realised we were RIGHT.

    I'd just like to thank one person. Without Kent Ertugrul constantly aiming the gun at his feet and firing most of the bullets himself we couldn't have done it. Kent - you were amazing. How you managed to combine managerial mistakes with technical failures, financial blinkers, and spectacularly backfiring PR I just don't know. But you did, and when we were getting tired and fed up, you were always there with your next big miscalculation to help the campaign along. Without your help I'd have given up long ago.

    And the best ever thing you did to rekindle the flames against Phorm? It was your Patrick Robertson moment - yes - let's give a huge round of applause to StopPhoulPlay, the moment when the Daily Telegraph saw the light and the really bad press started in the mainstream printed papers. Superb timing, wonderful execution, that absolutely got things back on track for the privacy campaign.

    But don't get any ideas Kent. You are NOT John the Baptist. No way. Except that Phorm's head on a platter would be most welcome as the refreshments at the Phorm AGM.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Adverts Vary

    The ads that bug me are the pointless film ones, tells you the name of the film, who's in it but not what it's about. Same goes for DVD's. At least tell me what the bloody film is about.

    I don't mind certain adverts (there's a boots advert with a gorgeous girly playing at the moment!) but they DONT know who I am, or what I like. They don't follow me around keeping track of what I like.

    As has been said in other comments, this is the difference between magazines and behavioural advertising. If you're reading a page about Holidays, do you really want ads for Laptops cos that's what you normally look at? It would irritate me!

    The length of ad breaks seems to be steadily increasing, and the number of breaks seems to be on the up. Since I got a PVR I hate watching live TV, I'm getting overexposed to adverts as it is!

    Paris, because she's had some exposure as well

  24. Anonymous Coward

    They don't get it, do they?


    We don't want our habits and casual searches being fodder for some demented ad-man's wet dream!

    We don't care what clever thing you've come up with for harvesting, our info is ours. With regrads Phorm? Go cry me a river, FFS! The quicker Kurt and his bunch have to give up this crap and get real jobs cleaning sewers, where they belong, the better!

  25. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @Can't think of anything witty...

    "So if you saw an advert on the TV telling you that "new supa-white washing powder was half price!!" then you would buy that one?"

    No, because as I may have mentioned before, I find such advertising intrusive and annoying. In such cases, if I saw the product in the shop at half the price of another, similiar product, which I was going to buy anyway, then I might decide to buy it, based on the criteria that I happened to pick that day. Then again, I might decide not to buy it simply on the principle that the TV ad for it was annoying.

    Anyway, the whol 'washing powder' thing is a bit of an artificial example, and if I didn't know better, I'd think that you were some sort of marketing company shill trying to build a straw man to defend their way of life.

    Don't get me wrong, I can see the point of advertising - when somebody produces a new product or service that fills a niche in the market, they need to have some way of alerting the general populace to their existence. What I object to is the opportunistic brainwashing that goes on to try to persuade people to buy things that they wouldn't otherwise buy, and which they don't need.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    My question is...

    ... if we (the gullible public) "want" adverts then why do browser add ons like Ad Block Plus exist, never mind why they appear to be popular downloads?

    Re: Phorm taking the bullet for the ad industry. IMHO said bullet doesn't appear to be working 'cos they're still here. Anyone got any bullets of the silver variety (I heard these were effective against the undead)?

    And while I'm on the subject of US 2nd Amenment rights - could someone please deal with the dippy bozo(s) responsible for the current TV advert. It's so loud and annoying that I've added their ( website to my browser blacklist, and my mental one - I'll never buy anything from them!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    @Nebulo; quite right. Years ago when o2 was split off from BT, I briefly had one of their PAYG SIMs for 6 weeks while visiting the country. In that time I was bombarded with SMS ads - several a day - letting me know how much the sun shone out of o2's shiny new arse and what other wonders they could perform. It was nauseating; far worse than spam, more invasive, irritating and pointless even than telephone marketing. I'm on my 4th mobile contract since returning to the UK (and spend plenty on it) and o2 have not been considered for one of those contracts, nor will they until I develop dementia.

    Advertisers just seem congenitally incapable of getting it; the more they push, the more many of us (more than are generally stated, I believe) push back, simply making product X a no-go. The more creepy they make the delivery - using your name of some fact about what you like - the harder you push back. The "best mate" routine is increasingly counter productive; the idea that a corporation can have a relationship with you is ludicrous.

    The clever, memorable ads that just might have worked all seem to have been on TV, the ones that scored on some kind of artistic or humourous merit are entirely absent from the internet.

    It's moot anyway, good or bad. Until data pimping ads are opt-out by default they will attract flak like shit attracts flies.

  28. Lykofos
    Black Helicopters

    I wouldn't mend advertising so much if...

    - The advertising was not trying to track my browsing habits or gather other data

    - Avoided Flash or animated adverts

    - No pop ups/unders (not seen many since switch to Firefox years ago)

    - No floating adverts (generally have not seen these due to NoScript but some site will try to throw an error message in my face. Usually said site does not recieve my clicks.

    - Did not require scripts to run on my side

    - The ad server did not slow down the server if content (I have had too many time where I am waiting to read a site's content but an ad network's servers was being rather slow in serving the ad and was holding up the content that I wanted to read.

    - Was relevant to the content of the site I am reading, not to me specifically.

    Trying to compare print advertising with online is like comparing apples to durian. Sure both are similar in some ways, however one is more offensive than the other. If I read a magazine, I expect to advertising relevant to the content of the publication. However print advertising is not trying to gather information about me unless I fill out one of those stupid mail-in "survey" cards and I supply my personal details, However in that case, I have to make the effort to supply the data in question. If I don't want to supply the data, the card just gets tossed in the recycling bin. Online advertisers on the other hand try to gather said data in any way they can and they don't care what the viewer thinkgs. We all just data to be sold as far as the online advertising networks are concerned.


    Industrial Espionage, Copyright Theft, Trademark Infringement...

    Never mind the invidious mass surveillance of private personal communications, how do you run an economy where Phorm are monitoring 70% of the confidential communication between web sites and their visitors/customers/clients/suppliers... even modifying the content of those communications... and even using the economic intelligence obtained to target those people with ads for competitors?

    It is complete economic insanity. Pure madness.

    Phorm is mass industrial espionage, and intellectual property infringement.

    If Phorm have taken a bullet, this corrupt Government seem very keen to keep their rotten stinking corpse alive.

    Have one of these instead, perhaps it might finish the job... fire in the hole.

  30. Luther Blissett

    What sort of shroom would you like to eat today?

    One side makes you smaller...

    @GregC > What the marketers continually fail to understand is that most people don't actually want to be advertised at.

    Yes you do. Yes I do. Not by bread alone... The mind desires to be satiated as much as the stomach. To imagine the contrary is self-deception. They need mushrooms to sit in front of TVs, Vogue ads, etc. We need mushrooms to compare one side with the other:

    @Ed Blackshaw > Personally, I don't want products shoved down my throat

    Consumption is optional... or is it? Of course you don't need Mr Muscles latest Mushroom Cleaner, but your problem anyway was shrillness. Hit the mute button - then consume...ahh... the narrative. Buon appeitito. You may find that for all the £££ spent on marketing, educating media types, psycho-segmentation, there are a surprising number of ads where the message in the video contradicts the message in the audio. Can that successfully shove things down throats?

    > Since all washing powders contain pretty much the same ingredients

    Kiss my sodium laurel sulphate. I don't have any that I know of.

    @Eponymous Cowherd > Just need more bullets. Preferably loaded into a minigun.

    Put your liberty cap on, and see the _other_ side of the mushroom (above).

    @Richard Porter > The way to sell things to me is to make all the information I need easily available in a clear and concise manner with 100% browser compatibility (not reliant on Flash, Java, javascript, non-portable PDF etc.). Deliberately omitting relevant information...

    Perhaps there is a Utopia, but it's more likely to be thru the looking glass than in Web 2.0. In the looking glass, left is right, and right is left. But the shrooms never grow downwards. Not even the truffles.

  31. Fatman

    Phorm: Lightning Conductor (Absolutely)

    I think this metaphor describes Phorm.

    Think of Phorm's dubious methods as a 600 meter tall steel radio or television tower (that's over 1900 feet for us yanks); in the middle of a nasty thunderstorm.

    Then pray that every lightning bolt that hits the tower destroys it a little bit more. Sooner or later it is weakened enough to crash (and in Phorm's case - burn).

    Down with Phorm and its American cousin (NebuAd).

  32. RW

    Marketers are scammers and liars, one and all

    They not only lie to would-be consumers, but to the industries that pay for their services. They are selling to their employers a cock-and-bull story that denies the awful truth: namely, that advertising, by and large, DOES NOT WORK.

    I've been web-connected for nearly 15 years, have seen endless online ads for all sorts of goods and services, and can count on the fingers of one hand (with several unused) the number of times any online ad has influenced my behavior as a consumer.

    The only form of advertising online that works is Amazon's "People who bought this also bought..." system.

    Madison Avenue is a house of cards, an emperor with no clothes, and I am the little boy who points out the obvious.

  33. N2


    Im going to be honest here, but Im fed up of intrusion, call it what you like if you work for Phorm its profiling or some other term, but profilers to anyone else who knocks on my door please...

    Fuck off

    Someone from some shitty rag mag called me up today & after the initial introduction asked me for the date and town of birth, why? because its a security question. Duh.

    I for one dont want every corporations servers heaving with data that they fail to manage & of course diddnt answer the question. I wouldnt be honest anyway.

    So profiling IMO is shit, I anonamise my browsing sessions & send search engines tons of crap, i go to different cashpoints & draw out random ammounts of cash so I cant be tracked through CC companies & Im not bothered if my mobile is switched off because if someone cant call me its tough shit, It wont stop me breathing.

    The sooner firm action is taken on unwanted/unnecessary/illegal data profiling the better

  34. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @ Sir Runcible Spoon

    What ads?

    Oh yes, sorry, that will be my ad-blocking settings at work again.

    : )

  35. Grumpy Developer
    Big Brother

    I for one would like to thank Phorm

    Before I read about Phorm on El Reg many moons ago, I had no idea what a bunch of unprincipled vermin most of those in the advertising industry were and what lengths they will go to just to make a few quid.

    Phorm have poisoned the 'Behavioral' or 'Interest Based' advertising well for everyone. Now that I am aware of the lengths that these companies will go to, and the amount of information that these companies keep on us, I use many counter-measures to try to ensure that *no* advertising company has *any* information about me at all.

    Phorm have managed to convert me from someone who was indifferent to advertisers to someone who regards them all with nothing but contempt - with very few exceptions, every advert I see now has a strongly negative effect on my feelings towards that brand.

    It seems that the Phorm Phiasco has had a similar effect on a number of other people and hopefully as a result legislation will be introduced both here and across the pond to ensure that users can only be tracked with their express permission. One day I hope that we will look back at Kent's antics and thank him for creating a true privacy revolution - just not the sort he envisaged.

    Can we have a 'B Ark' icon, please?

  36. Anonymous Coward

    @ ex-phorm employee

    It's not bad business decisions, it's a bad business. Phorm are the web equivalent of wankers calling you at dinner time to sell you a mobile phone package. It's not at all difficult to see how such a product would be received without the underhandedness. The business is underhanded in nature.

    You've got a lot of nerve taking their money then commenting on here about it. I bet you were astroturfing six months ago.

  37. MidnightVoice
    Big Brother

    Pour encourager les autres....

    Chris Maples doesn’t get it, does he? Or at least, in how he’s been reported here...

    I’ve always said there were two sides to serving relevant advertising; the actual serving of *advertising*, and the determination of *relevant*. The ‘industry’ that Phorm have ‘taken one for’ doesn’t always seem to make the distinction, as evidenced above.

    What’s wrong with advertising, as perceived by the viewer, is generally wrong with it whether it’s relevant or random. It does sound attractive, and logical, that the viewer should see less wrong with relevant advertising than the general scatter-gun stuff; but how much less wrong? Penny points, or more than that? We don’t even know yet.

    And even if an ad is relevant to me, is it relevant everywhere? If I’m in the market both for football memorabilia and a laptop, say – so both are relevant to me – then will I welcome a football memorabilia ad when surfing Laptops’R’Us, or find it an annoyance?

    In effect, that’s what the delivery side of Phorm and its ilk were selling – and it was never demonstrated, AFAIK, that it was at all effective, let alone that it wasn’t merely neutral, or even counter-productive.

    Going back to the determination of relevant – I’d be amazed if the industry had to sell the pitch that advertising football memorabilia in a football magazine needed any sort of permission, let alone regulation (though if I had a pitch to sell, I guess a football magazine might be as good a place as any to advertise it).

    As that’s how the ad industry has worked for paper magazines for years. Chris Maples could save himself a lot of time and grief right now by getting the box set of Mad Men, watching it, and then working forward.

    But what of Phorm? The one they took for the team was to make crystal clear that there are unacceptable ways of determining relevance.

    On the continuum from football ads in football magazines, through Tesco Club Card spotting that I bought ‘Football Monthly’ and printing me a discount ticket for ‘Soccer Saturdays’, to Amazon recommending Peter Crouch’s memoirs because I bought ‘The Damned United’, to full-blown overt DPI surveillance by Phorm, we all have a (possibly different) bailing out point. But we all bail out before we get to where Phorm positioned themselves

    Let’s hope that the industry sees the corpse of Phorm impaled on the barbed-wire of public opinion as a stern warning not to ever try the same thing again, rather than just a handy stepping-stone over that wire for the next wave of DPI wannabees. Our guns are reloaded, and the ammo will never run out.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    I love 'em.

    I particularly like ads that assume I'm a narcissist. Fortunately most of them do. Unfortunately, most of them are just guessing. With behaviourally targeted ads, they will know for a fact that I'm a giant baby with a salary.

  39. Neoc

    Wish they'd read their own examples

    "So in the one corner you have Microsoft's Chris Maples making the pitch for the convenience of relevant advertising via the eminently sensible point that if you advertise in Vogue, or in a football magazine, you expect to reach a specific kind of reader and the specific kind of reader expects to see a specific kind of ad."

    Exactly - these ads are based on the type of magazine *I am currently reading*, and not on whatever other magazines I may or may not have read in the past.

    I have no problems with advertising based on the type of website I am *currently* viewing - for example, if I visited a website discussing the new Astroboy movie, I would expect ads to target the fact that this website is about (1) a movie, (2) a CGI movie, (3) a movie about an old anime/manga character, (4) more than likely tech-oriented, (5) about entertainment. Thus, ads which fit the above criterias make sense, while an ad for (say) a new set of golf-clubs would not, regardless of whether or not I had just visited a website about golfing.

    Get it right, advert agencies, and stop being lazy - profile the readership of a specific website before advertising on it, like you would in other medias.

  40. SilverWave

    Scary how close they came to pulling this off though...

    I remember right at the start after reading the reg article "What about the MP's and Police communicating via the web?" it was obvious that the possible blackmail implications alone should have had the government shutting Phorm down.

    But the links between:


    The big telco who supported Phorm.

    The HomeOffice.

    Were a little scary.

    The big telco who supported Phorm has always been close to Big Government.

    So was it an agreement of some kind? The thin edge of the wedge?

    Or was it simply a huge get Rich Quick Scheme, and a lot of the Old Boys Network were asked to help out for a cut of the take?

    I don't know but its only because of thinks like the Downing Street Petition and WriteToThem that we got people to listen up.

    Also I have a much higher option of the EU after having seen just how far our government let us down in protecting us here.

    Well done everyone :)

    Oh and... Die Phorm DIE!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I've been web-connected for nearly 15 years, have seen endless online ads for all sorts of goods and services, and can count on the fingers of one hand (with several unused) the number of times any online ad has influenced my behavior as a consumer"

    The problem is that is only your perception, and you probably HAVE been infulenced, but not realised it. That is why I hate advertising. It works best for something you don't normally buy. The bastards in the marketing houses know full well that if you see the product label for their ignominious product, even if it is just to close the window each day, then come the day you are actually looking for one of whatever it is, and you are confronted by 3 different brands of it on the shelf, or on the page before you, you will subconciously, and that is the key, *subconciously*, choose the one you have seen before. They know it works or they wouldn't spend squillions on it.

    That's apart from the subliminal voiceovers and bullshit music playing in clothes shops where they have evidence that playing music that people will associate with feeling good, (oh I remember this was playing when I was on holiday and had such a good time) makes them relax and let their guards down and buy stuff on impulse. It doesn't matter that you know it is being done, it still works. Advertising is mass manipulation bordering on abuse in my book, bastards.

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